Summary Magnesium is an important ion in all living cells being a cofactor of many enzymes, especially those utilising high energy phosphate bounds. The relationship between insulin and magnesium has been recently studied. In particular it has been shown that magnesium plays the role of a second messenger for insulin action; on the other hand, insulin itself has been demonstrated to be an important regulatory factor of intracellular magnesium accumulation. Conditions associated with insulin resistance, such as hypertension or aging, are also associated with low intracellular magnesium contents. In diabetes mellitus, it is suggested that low intracellular magnesium levels result from both increased urinary losses and insulin resistance. The extent to which such a low intracellular magnesium content contributes to the development of macro- and microangiopathy remains to be established. A reduced intracellular magnesium content might contribute to the impaired insulin response and action which occurs in Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus. Chronic magnesium supplementation can contribute to an improvement in both islet Beta-cell response and insulin action in non-insulin-dependent diabetic subjects.
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